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Synopsis

From earliest times, sex has fascinated and repulsed society in equal measure. In an effort to untangle Western society's complex relationship with the realities of sex, this provocative volume explores the ways in which governments, religious leaders and cultures in Europe tried to regulate sex and sexuality throughout history. From the sacred texts of ancient Israel to the slums of 19th century Britain, this book explores political, legal and cultural controls on consensual sex and the individuals and movements that resisted them. Topics range from prostitution and homosexuality to marriage, contraception and abortion. While traditional narrative holds that Europe alternated between sexual freedom and oppression through the Victorian age, this work reveals that the real story of how sex was regulated--and how people defied regulation--is not so clear cut.

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